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PDP National Convention: A Victory For Democracy

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When the leadership  of
the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, re-appointed the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike as the chairman of the 17th August, 2016 National Convention Planning Committee,  it was because  the party needed a strong and dedicated   political strategist with the right skills to weather the storm of the  anti-denocratic  antics  of the ruling party.
They knew ab-initio  that it would  take the political engineering  skills of a tested political horse to ensure the success of the repeat National Convention of the PDP, in the face of the developmental  failures  of the party in power at the centre.
Judicial  Doubts
A few days to the convention,  it became quite clear that there was a deliberate plot from the powers that be to scuttle  the National Convention in Port Harcourt.  As preparations reached fever pitch, the Judicial  struggle over the propriety or otherwise  of the convention came to the fore.
The Federal High Court in Port Harcourt inSuit Number FHC/PH/CS/585/2016, between Senator Ben Obi for himself and other members of the National Planning Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Inspector-General of Police,  the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State,  State Security Service, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC,  ordered the  Police,  DSS  and INEC  to  participate  in  the  17th August, 2016 National Convention.
He declared that, “it is necessary for  the defendants to carry out their respective  functions at the 17th August,  2016”.
The court further  declared  that  its judgment  of  4th July, 2016 remains valid until  set aside by a competent jurisdiction,  which in this case is the Court of Appeal.
On the other hand, another Federal High Court in Abuja,  presided over by Justice Okon Abang gave an interlocutory injunction asking the Inspector General of Police not to provide for the August 17th National Convention.
Judicial Distinction
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria,  Dejo Lamikanra explained   that  regarding  the  PDP  conflict, there is only one judgment—that delivered by Justice  Liman  of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt which validated the May 21 National Convention of the PDP giving life to the National Caretaker Committee of the PDP  under the leadership of Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
Lamikanra  (SAN) noted that the interlocutory injunction of Justice Abang  is inferior to the judgment and therefore cannot be placed above the considered judgment of a court.
In a similar vein, the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt  through its judgment on the originating summons  filed by the Secretary of the Caretaker Committee on 16th August,  2016 reaffirmed  that the National Caretaker Committee is the only organ with executive  powers at present in the PDP.
Therefore,  there was no controversy as to the body that had the legal backing to conduct the activities  of  the PDP.  It was clear that until the Court of Appeal decides oterwise, the Ahmed Makarfi-led PDP Caretaker Committee was in legal control of the party.
Endorsements for the National Convention
The Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, declared  its  support for the conduct  of the National Convention in Port Harcourt.
Speaking  during a solidarity  visit on Governor  Wike  at the Government House,  Port Harcourt, a day before the convention ,  Chairman of the Board of  Trustees  ,  Senator Walid Jubrin said board members  at their pre-convention meeting  endorsed the contributions  of  the  governor  to re-position  the party.
The Board of Trustees stated that the appointment of the governor  as the chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee was commendable as it has helped to set up a worthwhile convention.
.Senator Wali Jubrin said all the leaders of the PDP were in Rivers State for the National Convention .
Head of Publicity of the Caretaker Committee , Prince Dayo Adeyeye on the eve of the National Convention announced that the convention would go ahead on the strength of Justice Ibrahim Watila judgment of 16th August, 2016.
A statement by Prince Adeyeye read : “Our attention has been drawn once again to another act of judicial recklessness by the Honourable Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Okon Abang of the purported suspension of the PDP National Convention holding in Port Harcourt, Rivers on Wednesday the 17 of August 2016.
“We wish to however state that a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt Rivers State has earlier in the day given a comprehensive Order wherein the Honourable Judge specifically ordered the PDP to proceed with the convention as scheduled without hindrance. Indeed his lordship while given the Order mandated all relevant agencies including The Police, DSS and INEC to cooperate with the Party in organizing a hitch free National Convention.
“You may also wish to note that the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State gave an Interlocutory Order while Justice Okon Abang, Abuja, gave an interim order. The order of Port Harcourt is clearly superior and earlier in time to the interim order given by Justice Okon Abang. In the light of the above, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a law-abiding party is obeying the order of the Port Harcourt Federal High Court until set aside by any competent court of jurisdiction.
“In view of the above, the 2016 Repeat National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will continue as scheduled as we welcome all delegates, party leaders, other critical stakeholders, INEC monitoring team and other friends of PDP to Port Harcourt, Rivers State while wishing all our members and supporters a successful National Convention.”
Failed Attempt to Scuttle PDP National Convention
In the early hours of 17th August, 2016, security  agents acting on illegal  orders from above invaded Sharks Stadium, venue of the PDP National Convention.  Numbering over 500, they chased out all delegates and party officials   who were gathered at the  venue waiting  for  the convention to kick off . Armed to the teeth with armoured personnel carriers and sophisticated weapons,  they also blocked all routes to the stadium.
The police high command  claimed that they obeyed an interlocutory injunction from Justice Okon Abang.  With the benefit of hindsight, Nigerians now know the value of Justice Abang’s judgments.  The Court of Appeal  made very fundamental pronouncements on Justice Okon Abang.
Following the action by the security agencies, all the organs of the PDP met at the Government House, Port Harcourt where they took far reaching decisions. The principal decision being that the PDP must defend the  nation’s democracy,  which it has nurtured to maturity. They resolved to go ahead with the PDP National Convention.
Successful National Convention
The process for the successful PDP National Convention started with inauguration of the National Executive Committee of the party by the National Caretaker Committee Chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
Performing  the inauguration at the Government House, Port Harcourt on Wednesday , Senator Makarfi  said that the National Executive Committee, NEC, include the PDP  Governors,  National Assembly Caucus , Board of Trustees,  National Caucus, 36 State PDP chairmen and national officers of the party
The PDP National Convention approved the extension of the tenure of the National Caretaker Committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi by 12 months.
The motion was moved by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekeremadu and seconded by the former Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Zainab Maina.
The Chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo  Wike put the question  for the extension  of the  lifespan  of the committee,  which  was unanimously  approved.
The National  Caretaker Committee  was expanded to have a membership  of  13 persons. The National Convention further approved that no member of  the  current National Caretaker Committee will contest elections  whenever  it is held.
The National  Convention  had earlier  adopted a motion  moved by the Minority  Leader,  Leo Ogor to amend the agenda  of  the  National Convention  and step down the issue of election.
Party leaders in separate  goodwill  messages  at the National Convention  condemned the Federal Government for entrenching political impunity that is a threat to democracy.
In his acceptance speech, Chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi assured that the party will continue to forge ahead.
Attendance
The 17th August National Convention attracted thousands of PDP faithful from the 36 States of the Federation and Abuja. The population far exceeded the number that attended the May 21 National Convention earlier in the year.
In attendance were the 12 PDP Governors, several former Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members, State Assembly members, former Ministers, BOT members, 36 State PDP chairmen and party elders.
From the list of leaders and delegates that participated in the convention,  it  was clear that Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff was being used by external forces to distract the party. The former Acting National Chairman has no founding member or leader of the PDP with him.
It is instructive  to note that before the amendment  of  the agenda  of the National Convention to remove the election of party officers, 57 candidates  had been screened and ready for the voting process.
Peaceful Nature of Port Harcourt
One point that must not be discountenanced in any post-convention analysis  is the peaceful nature of Port Harcourt and Rivers State.  Over 100,000 Nigerians directly and indirectly connected to the convention converged in the state without an incident.
Even the illegal actions of security agencies did not provoke the people as they insisted on maintaining peace so that democracy can thrive.
Governor Wike’s Post National Convention Assessment
Chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike stated that the successful conduct of the August 17th National Convention of the party flows from the commitment of all bonafide members  to reposition it in the interest of the country.
Governor  Wike  in an interview  noted that the calibre of members  who graced the  convention  proves that the party has moved on after the unnecessary crisis generated by its former Acting National Chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff.
Governor Wike said, “the calibre of persons who attended  the National Convention is an indication  that the PDP  remains  strong with quality  members  who are ever ready to make sacrifices.
“At the national  convention were PDP Governors, former Governors,  Senators,  House of Representatives members, former Ministers, BOT members, all State PDP chairmen, party elders and delegates from all over the country.  We are happy that the  party has moved on”.
He noted that the PDP  is a law-abiding party, which did not struggle  with the security agencies  after they illegally  invaded the initial  venue of the National Convention.  He said  the party leaders and delegates  simply  moved to another location  for a successful National Convention.
Victory for Democracy
The resolve of the PDP  leaders to go ahead with the PDP National Convention despite  the display of impunity  by the powers that be is a victory for democracy  and the rule of law. It proved that no level of  deployment  of  the agents of state  violence  can not stop the PDP  from working towards the deepening of democracy,  with the ultimate  goal of changing the government in  2019.
The successful  17th August National Convention further proved that the leaders and members of the PDP  are determined to  stake their resources in defence of democracy  which they groomed since 1999. After all, Nigeria  is enjoying  its longest spell of democracy,  courtesy of the PDP.
Nwakaudu is Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor, on Electronic Media.

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…Urges Ondo Gov To Shelve N2bn Gov’s Lodge Project

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has advised the Ondo State government  to shelve its plans to build a new governor’s lodge at the cost of N2 billion in the interest of the state.
Mr Fatai Adams, the state PDP Chairman said this when he spoke with newsmen at the state party secretariat in Akure, yesterday.
Adams expressed concern over mass resignation of doctors in the state due to poor remuneration.
“We are seriously alarmed by the unfortunate resignation of over 109 doctors from the state public service over the inability of the government to pay their due salaries and hazard allowances as at when due.
“I’m sure you will all recall that Ondo State was the destination for medical tourism in the South West because of the first class service delivery found here under the PDP administration.
“According to the Nigerian Medical Association records, no medical house officer has been employed by the state government since 2019, a situation that is responsible for the poor services rendered in the hospitals.
“The present administration has a backlog of unpaid salaries of workers, it is proposing to build a N2 billion new governor’s lodge in Akure. This is not only ridiculous but the surest evidence that the government has completely lost direction,” he said.
Adams added” “Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Oluwarotimi Akeredeolu’s predecessor built a very befitting governor’s Lodge in 2013, a few years before Akeredolu assumed the reins of government.
“To spend N2 billion of tax payers money on another lodge at this time is the height of callousness and wastefulness,” he said.

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Senators Rate 9th National Assembly High

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Senators on Wednesday at plenary commended the 9th National Assembly at the mid-term assessment of its performance in the last two years.
The lawmakers, who spoke during a special session to mark the second year anniversary of the 9th Senate, commended the various legislative interventions of the National Assembly, especially on  security, economy and governance.
The lawmakers, who spoke included the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC-Kebbi); Deputy Leader, Ajayi Boroffice (APC-Ondo); Deputy Whip, Aliyu Sabi (APC-Niger), and Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi).
Others were Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC-Kwara); Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue); Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu); Solomon Adeola (APC-Lagos), Olubunmi Adetumbi (APC,-Ekiti), Ibikunle Amosun (APC-Ogun), and Suleiman Umar (APC-Kwara).
The rest were Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo (APC-Bayelsa); Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP-Ondo); Istifanus Gyang (PDP-Plateau); Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi); Teslim Folarin (APC-Oyo); Nora Daduut (APC-Plateau); Jibrin Isah (APC-Kogi); Abdullahi Adamu (APC-Nasarawa), and Francis Fadahunsi (PDP-Osun), amongst others.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in a speech delivered at the special session, said 742 bills were introduced by the ninth Senate in the last two years.
According to him, out of the total number of bills introduced during the two sessions of the Assembly, 58 have been passed, while 355 bills have gone through first reading.
Contributing, Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, said the realignment carried out on the budget cycle by the National Assembly was to insulate businesses and the economy from going into recession.
Deputy Whip, Sen. Aliyu Sabi, said: “As we celebrate two years, we are guided by the legislative agenda.
“The unity of purpose which we have worked for, has enabled us to achieve those great strides.
“The Production Sharing Contract (PSC) is a testimony on how the National Assembly has been able to work in unity in the interest of the nation.
“We need to work together to find common grounds to problems that beset the country,” Abdullahi said.
In his own remark, Sen. Garbriel Suswam, said: “Inspite of challenges and shortcomings, the 9th Assembly had taken major steps to achieve some of its legislative agenda.”
He said that the executive has been intransigent in implementing the resolution of the National Assembly.
He appealed to the Senate President to ensure that the Electoral Bill presently before the National Assembly was passed transparently, while accommodating provisions for the use of electronic card readers and electronic transmission of results during elections.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi, on his own part, described Executive-Legislative relations under the ninth Assembly as a good one.
The lawmaker, who  called for the introduction of State Police, to curb rising insecurity in the country, also advised that the constitutional review exercise, be used to bring the South East region at par with other parts of the country.
Sen. Solomon Adeola similarly said that the Senate had on two occasions rescued Nigeria from a looming economic crises when it slid into recession.
He added that such a prompt response was extended by the National Assembly to the issue of insecurity amid its recommendations to the Executive arm of government, which were aimed at tackling the spate of insecurity faced by the country.

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PDP Inaugurates E-Registration Committee

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday inaugurated e-registration Committee to facilitate electronic registration of its members nationwide.
The committee is Chaired by the Governor of Edo, Mr Godwin Obaseki, while Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State is the Vice Chairman.
The party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, at the inauguration of the committee in Abuja, said that the e- registration was a project dear to the party and had been on the card since 2010.
Secondus said that the party decided to digitalise its membership for proper database, due to its size, reach and to move with time.
“When we say that PDP is the largest party in the continent, we are not grandstanding but stating the obvious.
“There is no nook and cranny of this country that you won’t find PDP members.
“In 2019 general elections, the PDP was the only political party that fielded candidates in all the positions: Presidency, Governorship, Senate and House of Representatives and in all the 36 states’ Houses of Assembly.
“Even in states where we are not in power, our members still out number even the ruling party in such states.
“We are the only party since inception in 1998 that has been consistent in name, motto, manifestos and logo,” he said.
Secondus said that reports available to the party across the country showed that many more Nigerians want to join PDP and that the exercise would provide them such opportunity.
Secondus advised members of the committee to use their wealth of experience to deliver on the mandate assigned to them.
“In appointing you as the Chairman of this project, the party took into consideration your background and your love for data and record keeping.
“We have absolute confidence that you and your team will deliver in this assignment that is expected to update the database of our party across the country.
“Membership registration into our party is a continuous programme, what we are embarking on is to digitalise it for proper analysis of issues.
“The place of women and youths in our party cannot be over-emphasised and this programme is going to help toward proper planning in our party,” Secondus said.
Obaseki, in his remarks promised that the committee would reach out to PDP members across the nation.
He promised that the exercise would be all inclusive to the men and women, especially youths who were living in the digital world.
Obaseki said the committee would leverage on the existing platform of the party and produced a membership register that the party would be proud of .
“It is very worthy that our party being a big party has decided to digitalised membership and position the party to take over in 2023,” he said.
The party’s National Organising Secretary, retired Col. Austin Akobundu is the Secretary to the Committee, while the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan; Agbi Emmanuel, Prof. Wale Oladipo, Sani Kutigi, Cyril Maduabum and Hon. Austin Opara will serve as members. 

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